Opera Scotland

At the Boar's Head 1925British National Opera Company

Read more about the opera At the Boar's Head

Holst's attractive comedy is here given its only performance during the four-week Scottish tour. It faces a stiff challenge by being pitted against an almost as recent mediaeval romp from Italy - Puccini's Gianni Schicchi.


An Edinburgh Critic

The Scotsman of Wednesday, 21 October (p8) reported on the farcical double-bill of At the Boar's Head and Gianni Schicchi:

'Last night, at the King's Theatre, there was the most completely novel production of the present season of the British National Opera Company - Mr Gustav Holst's At the Boar's Head.  Last week's novelty, Coffee and Cupid, was probably familiar to a number of those who heard it, in its original form as the Coffee Cantata, but of Mr Holst's latest opera nothing had been heard here before. As its title suggests, it is an adaptation from scenes from the first and second acts of Henry IV. It introduces Falstaff, Prince Hal, Dame Quickly, Doll Tearsheet, Poins, Bardolph, Pistol, and the rest of the disreputable crew, and Mr Holst has set his text to adaptations of old English folk-tunes.

'The employment of these folk-tunes is, in the main, wonderfully clever; and the orchestral element in the opera is also very striking. If there is a defect it lies in over-elaboration.  An astute doctor once remarked that an important element in success in medical practice lay in knowing when to let the patient alone. It is not always that Mr Holst succeeds in making an effect, and leaving it to stand as it is.  The madrigalian ensemble, for example, in which the Prince begins with the words of the sonnet ''Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's claws,'' is very clever, but it produces an impression of being overdone. At its best, however, the opera strikes a fine robust note, and the episode of the departure of the troops, to the tune of ''Lord Willoughby's March'' is genuinely stirring.

' There was a magnificent performance of the work. Mr Norman Allin's Falstaff was full of rich humour, and Mr Tudor Davies as the Prince was brilliantly effective. 

The Doll Tearsheet of Miss Constance Willis was another arresting study, as was also the Dame Quickly of Miss Elsy Treweek. 

Mr Frederic Collier as Pistol, Mr Sydney Russell as Bardolph, Mr Parry Jones as Peto, Mr Henry Mann, replacing Mr Dennis Noble, as Gadshill, and Mr Philip Bertram as Poins, were all good. 

Mr Aylmer Buesst conducted, and the vivacity of the performance under his direction was deserving of the highest praise.


BNOC in Scotland - 1925

The 1925 tour consisted of two weeks in Glasgow (Theatre Royal) followed by two weeks in Edinburgh (King's).

The 19 operas performed during the tour were:

Bach (Coffee Cantata);  Mozart (Magic Flute); Wagner (Tannhäuser, Tristan and Isolde Mastersingers); Verdi (RigolettoAïdaOtello); Offenbach (Tales of Hoffmann);  Bizet (Carmen);  Rimsky-Korsakov (Golden Cockerel);  Leoncavallo (Pagliacci);  Mascagni (Cavalleria Rusticana); Puccini (BohèmeToscaMadam ButterflyGianni Schicchi); Holst (At the Boar's Head);  Vaughan Williams (Hugh the Drover).

The tour schedule was:

Glasgow, w/c 28 September: Mon 28 Rigoletto;  Tue 29 Tannhäuser;  Wed 30 mat Cav & Pag;  Wed 30 eve Hugh the Drover;  Thu 1 Oct Otello;  Fri 2 Madam Butterfly; Sat 3 mat Magic Flute;  Sat 3 eve Bohème.

Glasgow, w/c 5 October: Mon 5 Carmen; Tue 6 Coffee Cantata & Golden Cockerel; Wed 7 mat Rigoletto;  Wed 7 eve Mastersingers;  Thu 8 Otello;  Fri 9 Tristan and Isolde;  Sat 10 mat Tales of Hoffmann;  Sat 10 eve Aïda.

Edinburgh, w/c 12 October: Mon 12 Mastersingers;  Tue 13 Tannhäuser;  Wed 14  mat Bohème; Wed 14 eve Aïda;  Thu 15 Magic Flute;  Fri 16 Coffee Cantata & Hugh the Drover;  Sat 17 mat Golden Cockerel;  Sat 17 eve Carmen.

Edinburgh, w/c 19 October: Mon 19 Otello;  Tue 20 At the Boar's Head & Gianni Schicchi;  Wed 21 mat Cav Pag;  Wed 21 eve Rigoletto;  Thu 22 Bohème;  Fri 23 Tosca;  Sat 24 mat Carmen;  Sat 24 eve Tales of Hoffmann.

Production Cast


Aylmer Buesst (Oct 20)


George King

Performance DatesAt the Boar's Head 1925

Map List

King's Theatre, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

20 Oct, 19.30

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